Hollywood superstar Margot Robbie to play leading role in "Manaka" - an action thriller film based on the life of a Zimbabwean activist

Renowned Hollywood Actress Margot Robbie, famed for her portrayal of Barbie in the 2023 Blockbuster alongside Ryan Gosling, is set to assume the leading role in a gripping action thriller titled "Manaka." A film based on the life of Jamie Joseph, a Zimbabwe-born, New Zealand-based anti-poaching activist and her relentless campaign against rhino poaching in South Africa.

Margot Robbie to play lead role in "Manaka" - an action thriller film based on the life of a Zimbabwean activist
Jamie Joseph and Margot Robbie
Image by Jamie Joseph

The genesis of their collaboration traces back to a Hollywood encounter in 2018, where Robbie and Joseph crossed paths at a fundraising event for Joseph's New Zealand charity, Saving the Wild. In 2019, Robbie and her spouse travelled to South Africa to immerse themselves in Joseph's firsthand experiences with the rhino crisis.

Appalled by the rampant criminal activities perpetuating poaching, Robbie found inspiration in Joseph's unwavering dedication and the courage of those risking their lives to expose the issue. The forthcoming movie "Manaka" will craft a fictionalized portrayal of Joseph's impactful work, weaving together a tapestry of undercover operations, ranger and police officer assassinations, crime boss intrigue, and pervasive corruption at all levels.

Born in Zimbabwe and later relocating to New Zealand in 2009, Joseph established a base in the Bay of Plenty where her family resided. Initially involved in producing music festivals, collaborating with Kiwi bands such as The Black Seeds and Tahuna Breaks, Joseph's profound connection to Africa drew her into the urgent battle against rhino and elephant poaching crises.

Recognizing the intricate ties between poaching and organized crime, Joseph embarked on undercover operations to expose these nefarious activities. Her story gained prominence through a TV New Zealand Sunday documentary, shedding light on a rhino poaching kingpin who continues to elude justice.

The film, a collaborative effort by Robbie, her husband Tom Ackerley, producer Anthony Mastromauro, and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Charles Randolph, will be scripted by Nigerian-born director Thomas "Eromose" Ikimi. Known for his work on the Tribeca Film Festival entry "88," Ikimi is set to pen a compelling drama centred around a fervent wildlife preservationist and activist. Filming is scheduled to commence in 2024.

In an exclusive interview with Variety, Ikimi expressed his honour in contributing to a project of profound significance to Africa. The film aims not only to spotlight the corruption imperilling South Africa's rhino population but also to illuminate the broader implications for the entire continent. Ikimi is enthusiastic about crafting a visceral action thriller that thrusts this urgent human crisis into the mainstream, emphasizing the profound depth beyond the quest for rhino horn.

This collaborative cinematic endeavour underscores the commitment of Hollywood's elite to amplify the voices of those battling against environmental atrocities, bringing to light the complex dynamics that threaten Africa's wildlife heritage.

*Story compiled from various online sources

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Mungwadzi Godwin

twitterinstagramI like sharing positive stories about Zimbabweans at home and abroad. I also write articles on Personal Finance, Fashion, Music, and Tech. Let's connect!

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